Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha receives Iba Award for humanitarian efforts; team honored, too
TULSA, Okla. — Will things be different — will things be better — for Nnamdi Asomugha and the Eagles in 2012?Absolutely, he said. But one thing remains the same. Asomugha continues to collect "good guy" awards.
TULSA, Okla. — Will things be different — will things be better — for Nnamdi Asomugha and the Eagles in 2012?
Absolutely, he said.
But one thing remains the same. Asomugha continues to collect "good guy" awards.
Asomugha, a former Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year, was in Oklahoma on Monday to receive the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award.
The award is named in memory of the former Oklahoma State basketball coach who was head coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 1964, 1968 and 1972.
Iba died in 1993. The Rotary Club of Tulsa created the Iba Awards in 1994 with the intent of shining a spotlight on positive role models in sports. For the 19th consecutive year, the Rotary Club of Tulsa presented Iba Awards to male and female honorees who excel in their sport and whose actions display a desire to help others.
Through programs in Asomugha's foundation, he has aided students in the United States and orphans and widows in Nigeria. This spring, he traveled to Chicago with four students from Philadelphia to give them the experience of visiting another city. He has made a significant difference in people's lives and the Eagles hoped to land an on-the-field difference-maker when they signed the lockdown cornerback to a 5-year, $60 million contract last year.
The get-to-know-each-other season fell short of expectations. The Eagles started 4-8 and missed the playoffs for only the third time in this millennium.
But the Eagles swept their final four games, outscoring opponents ,125-46, and surrendering only five touchdowns in that stretch. Maybe the Eagles figured things out and momentum will carry over into 2012.
"I think time helps everything," Asomugha said, explaining his reasons why he thinks the Eagles will be better.
"We have had a little bit more time [during this offseason], which has meant a little bit more help for coaches and players and we have brought in more pieces. We have kept our guys. So it's very positive and it's very on the up and up right now."
Asomugha needed an adjustment period to get acclimated to new surroundings and a new system. He spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders, who selected him in the first round of the 2003 draft.
Is Asomugha more comfortable now? Again, he referenced time. He said he has had more time to "fully get into what is being asked of me, no matter what it is, on and off the field and to be able to know the people that are around me and how they work.
"It's a team sport, so you've got to know everyone. I think that has helped, and I think just being able to focus a little bit more with an offseason has helped."
Helping — at least in a public service sense — is what brought Asomugha to Tulsa. And the Eagles organization, because of a sprawling body of work in community service through the Eagles Youth Partnership, was presented a special President's Award by the Rotary Club of Tulsa. The Eagles became the first franchise to be honored by the Iba Awards.
Asomugha acknowledged that it is nice to be honored for off-the-field work.
"And it's a bigger deal when you see that the Eagles are part of it as well, and we have been able to both get recognized for the same sort of thing," he said. "It's great."
Asomugha is the 12th NFL player to be selected as an Iba Award recipient, joining Derrick Brooks, Drew Brees, Brian Waters, Jason Taylor, Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, Will Shields, Warrick Dunn, Eugene Robinson, Chris Zorich and Mark Rypien. Other past recipients are golfer Tom Lehman, baseball player Ozzie Smith and basketball players John Starks, Karl Malone, Bryce Drew, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Paul.
The 2012 Iba Awards female recipient was Jessica Mendoza, a former softball Olympian.
Asomugha was introduced at the Iba Awards by former Oklahoma State head coach and NFL assistant Pat Jones, who retired from coaching and now co-hosts a sports-talk show in Tulsa. Jones, who was a Raiders assistant when Asomugha played in Oakland, described Asomugha as possessing "the best smile of anyone I ever coached."
Asomugha was inspired to give back from his home environment. His parents emigrated from Nigeria to the U.S. Asomugha said his parents almost always had a full house, because they provided food and shelter for many Nigerians who came to this country in pursuit of a better life.